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Christopher Court - Daily Radiation Treatment

Daily Radiation Treatment

Christopher Court with a Lego modelThe treatment plan called for 6 weeks of radiation Monday through Friday with weekends off.  It would not be practical to drive down to the hospital every day, so Chris and his mother stayed with family in Philadelphia for the first four weeks and the Ronald McDonald House for the last two.  The daily ritual would be to arrive an hour before the treatment was scheduled and spend a little time in the waiting area until the room was ready.  Once in the room it was time to change into his black skull bath robe and start answering all the questions about which drugs he had taken since the day before.  If it was a Monday, there was the additional task of accessing his port - it was de-accessed each weekend so that he could have a proper bath and be more comfortable.  Once all the questions were answered there was nothing to do but wait.  It was very rare to get into treatment on time and so Chris' parents had a variety of things for Chris to do such as Lego models, games on the iPad, drawing etc.  Every day without fail, Chris' teacher and his first grade class mates would phone and sing to him.  They would be put on speaker phone and would draw in anyone in the vicinity to listen.  Chris would often join in with the singing and do the hand movements.

At first Chris would growl at the nurses and his mood would change for the worse as soon as they entered the room, but as the days went by he warmed up to them.  The Child Life person in the proton center was Ally; she was there to find fun things for the kids to do while they were waiting for their treatment.  At first Chris would not talk to her at all, but she persisted and found a Lego model for him to build - that was the turning point for their relationship and they became firm friends after that.

Christopher Court putting himself to sleepChris was fascinated by the anesthetic.  They used propofol which is a white liquid that was administered via his port.  He referred to it as the "Milk Medicine".  Dr. Joe would let Chris squeeze the syringe and put himself to sleep.  As the drug went in, it would make Chris' face itchy and he would rub it with his favorite blanket (Daddy Cuddly) and then he would say goodnight.  Many times he would tell the nurses that he would fight the drug and stay awake, but he never managed it.  After going to sleep, Chris would be wheeled off for treatment and whichever members of the family were with him that day could go down to the restaurant and get a coffee and something to eat.  He would be gone for around 45 minutes.

On return from treatment Chris would still be asleep from the anesthetic and would take up to an hour to wake up.  When he did wake up he would be starving hungry and the first words out of his mouth would always be a demand for food.  Some days he would have cereal, others rolled up slices of salami an cheese.

 The afternoons after treatment would be filled with school work and sometimes there would be a visit to one of the Philadelphia museums - Chris loved museums, especially science and natural history ones.

One weekend during radiation, Chris' Karate teacher, Sensei Barbara came to the house to give him a private lesson.  She surprised him by presenting him with his Ninja Black Belt.  The look of surprise and absolute delight on his face will be remembered by all who saw it.